14 November 2022

Can the community save Nelligen's iconic Steampacket Hotel?

| Zoe Cartwright
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Steampacket Hotel

The Steampacket Hotel at Nelligen is a welcoming sight for motorists coming down the Clyde Mountain. Photo: Supplied.

Nelligen’s Steampacket Hotel has hosted celebrations, commiserations and catch-ups for more than 150 years – but if someone doesn’t act soon it might be calling for last rounds.

The iconic local pub is on the market, and if no one puts their hand up to take it on, its owners fear it will be snapped up by developers.

Licensee Joel Alvey, with mum Heather, wife Melissa and brother Greg, moved from Tullamore in Central Western NSW to take over the historic business in 2017.

At the time they couldn’t have known their business would be in the middle of Australia’s worst bushfire disaster, before being flooded, closed down by COVID-19, closed due to hail damage, and flooded again.

READ ALSO Nelligen’s iconic Steampacket Hotel is back in business

Despite the challenges, Melissa said they’d loved being at the hub of Nelligen community life.

“When we came to meet the town, they just took us in with open arms,” she said.

“It’s a small community, they’d give you the shirt off their back.

“Our customers aren’t just patrons but really close friends and that’s just been enhanced by what we’ve gone through together, we’ve gone through some really tough times and you really have to have good people supporting you to bounce back.

“I cannot speak highly enough, there are so many characters that make you want to keep turning up and make the pub work and keep the pub open.”

Three people in hotel

Melissa, Joel and Heather Alvey at the bar. Photo: Supplied.

Unfortunately, Melissa’s father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, and due to the backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic many of his appointments were cancelled or rescheduled.

“This caused the cancer to spread – he had surgery … and we’re still trying to find out how bad it is,” Melissa said.

“We’ve had a fair crack at the pub, and we’ve had our fun, but family needs to take priority now.

“We just want it to keep going as the community meeting spot it is.”

Without interest from any buyers, the pub has been listed as a potential development site – something Melissa says she’d hate to see happen.

READ ALSO Here’s cheers to Grong Grong and the locals who bought their own pub

Never short of a good idea, she hoped some members of the community might take inspiration from a little town named Grong Grong.

Their pub was struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, when a group of locals decided to pitch in to keep the doors open.

They aimed to raise $500,000 to keep their local, well, local, with a minimum shareholding of $5000 – 169 people pitched in $1 million.

The pub is going strong – and Melissa hopes the Steampacket could be saved the same way.

With a little more than 330 people calling Nelligen home – and maybe some support from regular holiday-makers – it could work.

“We just want it to keep going, it’s such a community hub, it helps so many people come together,” Melissa said.

“It’s just a vital part of any country town. We’d love for someone to take over that has the same mindset, that it’s got an important history and is a necessity for the town.”

Original Article published by Zoe Cartwright on About Regional.

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What rubbish. This is not the steam packet building. That is down at Nelligen proper, near the ferry ramp (now the main boat ramp). The cobbled together thing on the highway that now uses the name is not the original and is not a heritage building by any stretch of the imagination, the original, now a residence is.

How is a 150 year old building not heritage listed? Shame on the NSW government.

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